Monday, February 4, 2013

What it means to have Faith

Many of us claim to have faith.  But do we live this faith out? Do we really understand what it means to have faith?  Alpha Phi alumni, Amanda Teixeria, spoke at FOCUSgreek about her experience coming to college and realizing what it truly means to live out her faith.

 How do we live out our faith? By first knowing Jesus and then by sharing Him.

There are three types of relationships with Jesus:

1.      He is outside of our lives and has nothing to do with how we live
2.      He is only part of our lives.  We fit Him in during free time between practices, schools, and meetings.  He is just another activity in our schedule. 
3.      He is the center of our lives and everything we do revolves around our friendship with Christ

Another way that I sometimes like to think of this is: 1. We don’t realize that our actions are sins because we don’t know Jesus, 2. We know that what we are doing is wrong, but we continue to do it anyways and pretend like Jesus won’t mind, 3. we have Him in the center of our lives and try to avoid all sin because we realize how much it pains Him.  Being Greek makes it often hard to have Jesus at the center of our lives, we are constantly chasing after the next best thing to put us on top and we fill our lives with distracting temptations.

When Amanda would go to Frat parties, everyone would always feel sorry for her because she wasn’t drinking; but she knew she wasn’t missing out on anything, they were.  She knew that through her connection with Christ she was living in reality.  He reveals us to ourselves. We no longer try to be like anyone else, but are free to be who we were created to be.  It is attractive to see someone who knows who they are and is living a life of joy and freedom.  This is why we urgently need to build our life around Jesus; there will be ups and downs, but it will be the wildest adventure you have ever been on and the best.  God takes our small plans, blows them up, and then invites us to go on an even greater ride.   
Step two seems to scare people a lot more: Sharing Jesus

If our lives truly do revolve around Jesus and we know His love, then we would be so compelled to share His love that everyone around us would also know Jesus.  It has been said that we can see our own relationship with God based on how we invite others to know Jesus. 

People often think they are quoting St. Francis of Assisi when they say, “Preach the Gospel at all times, use words if necessary.” The thing is, hedidn’t say this.  In fact, he believed something far from it.  He would often travel to up to five towns a day preaching the Gospel using words.  If I see someone helping an old lady across the street I wouldn’t just think, “Wow that person must really know Christ, I want to know Him too.” All people see is a good person.  If we never use our words, then who are we witnessing to? Ourselves? You need your words to proclaim that your actions are because you know Jesus loves you, otherwise some people may never connect the dots.

What should really be our motto is, “Use your words to proclaim God’s love; but if your actions don’t match up, then your words are useless.” What this is saying is that unless we live out what we say our faith teaches us, people will just consider us hypocrites and never feel the need to know Jesus.   

Now, imagine what might happen if we never say anything at all:  It’s the end of your life, you are riding the escalator up to Heaven when you look over and see your fraternity brother or your sorority sister on another escalator that’s going down.  What is more awkward: bringing up Jesus in a conversation now, or the moment when they look you in the eye at the end of your life and ask “why didn’t you tell me? Why didn’t I deserve to be told so that I might be in Heaven also?” Let’s just say I personally hope I never hear those words.  Our Greek houses don’t need another funny guy who cracks jokes about how drunk they were the night before or someone who was on exec for all four years and is awesome; what they need is someone they can rely on to be a witness for Christ. They might not know it now, but being that witness is the best gift you could possibly give them.   Every year since Amanda has graduated she has gotten a letter or facebook message from one of her sorority sisters letting her know that they have come to know Jesus in their lives and thanking her for being that witness for them. 

People notice, even if they don’t say anything.  Our words might not bear fruit now, but they will later.  God’s hears our prayers and won’t let them go empty.   

One way to be a witness is through the idea of servant leadership; that by serving others, you become a leader.  (Prime example: Jesus) The small things do matter.  Do things that are counter cultural; by putting yourself last behind the pledges or simply just throwing out the trash when it gets full, our actions will back up our words and people will start to follow us on our journey for God. 

We don’t need to be perfect to preach the gospel, but we do need to be trying.  The biggest pitfalls we Greeks face are chastity, sobriety, and excellence.  Chastity and sobriety can be the biggest temptations and also the most detrimental to our witness.  If we are not living out the words of Jesus, why would they change their lives if they see that our lives are not changed?  Don’t let your actions turn someone away from finding God and spending eternity in Heaven.  

(sorry this is so long, she had a lot of great things to say)

Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life. Amen.” - Pope Benedict XVI

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